MEPRA to publish price guide

The Middle East PR Association is set to introduce a guide to the hourly rates that agencies are charging their clients, Campaign can reveal.

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By  Tim Addington Published  February 19, 2006

The Middle East PR Association is set to introduce a guide to the hourly rates that agencies are charging their clients, Campaign can reveal. The move, which MEPRA hopes will increase professionalism in the market, will give potential clients a clear idea on how much they should be paying for the services of a PR consultancy, and stop the practice of agencies undercutting each other on price. The plan will be put to the full MEPRA membership at its annual general meeting due at the end of the month. A lowest and highest hourly dollar value for working on client accounts has been set for each career level in the profession, from administration and account executive costs through to managing directors. The average figures are based on information supplied to MEPRA by its members. But Sadri Barrage, managing director at Headline PR and chairman of MEPRA, denied it was the start of a cartel, claiming it was an attempt to improve standards within the industry. He said: “We don’t want to compete on rates, we want to compete on service, on delivery and strategic thinking. We want to compete on quality. “Clients always want to negotiate prices and there is always a negotiation element, but we don’t want this to be the only criteria for selecting a PR agency. Because our business is not quantifiable, people are not willing to pay the right prices.” He added: “It is not a cartel. It is an attempt to make the industry more and more professional. We all charge more or less the same. Sometimes for upper management and senior account directors there is a bit of disparity.” Barrage, who declined to disclose at this stage what the hourly rates are, stressed they were only meant as a guide for potential clients, but urged agencies to include them when pitching for new business. MEPRA, which was established four years ago, has previously been criticised for failing to adequately promote the profession and its benefits to businesses in the region. But Nidal Abou Zaki, managing director at Orient Planet PR, which is reputed to be one of the lowest chargers in the market and is not a MEPRA member, said that, while the idea was sound, it would ultimately not work. “In theory, yes it is a good thing, but in reality I don’t know how the implementation would be done,” he said. “Is there a standard set of rates for people in the advertising industry? The market will decide who is good and who is not. This formula hasn’t worked anywhere else, why should it work here?” Barrage also said that MEPRA was considering hiring a full-time administrator to help implement its future plans.

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